A few days ago I woke up on a blustery morning to find a thin covering of ice blanketing the view outside my window. It wasn’t much. Just enough to cause legs to be extra steady and eyes to be more alert to spot patches of put-you-on-your-backside. However, once my car hit the pavement I realized the roads weren’t slick.
Yet, during this ritual of easing into winter I remembered a phrase my grandfather always used with me starting with the year I got my drivers license. He’d call the house in the morning before I headed to my destination and I would hear his kind voice carry through from the receiver, “Jennifer, it might not look slick outside today but you keep your eyes open. Watch your bridges and overpasses.”
I’d nod my head, unbeknownst to him on the other end, and thank him for the reminder.
To this day, when the thermometer gets anywhere near freezing and the moisture has filled the air I remind myself to be careful while approaching my bridges and overpasses.
My grandpa taught me a life lesson in all of this. He knew that my sensitivities needed to be heightened to something I couldn’t see. While the roads appeared to be perfectly safe, I would travel upon areas that didn’t have a solid foundation beneath them, causing the ice to collect on the road above. I needed to prepare for those sections of road. I needed to stay alert.
I think of Paul as he sat aboard a ship bound for Rome during a time of year that was ill advised to sail so far from home. I wrote a post several years ago about our tendency to obtain what it is we’re after and to let our guards down, calmly sailing along the shores of Crete with a complacent heart and an unguarded spirit. It it always during these colder months that my grandfather’s words ring true in my ears and I am lead to remember the larger lesson at hand.
As believers in Christ, we are told to stand firm against the enemies strategies. Never is there any mention of kicking our feet back as though we’ve reached the end. We are to remain alert and keep our eyes open to what we do not see. Nothing in this world will be as detrimental to our cause as spiritual warfare.
And I, for one, become naive to it more often than I’d care to admit.
Jonathon and I were talking one evening about obedience and how there are words from God that we can’t bend on whether we want to or not. His happens to be his desire to sleep in just a bit. It’s impossible for him. If he’s not up every morning of the week at 5 a.m. reading God’s Word and spending time in prayer, he is utterly convinced that his day will be one patch of ice after another. And I’ve watched this process long enough now that I don’t argue with him.
But for me, it’s a little different. For me, complacency is my area of danger. I get comfortable in my place. Thinking that one hour I spent on studying God’s Word and praying down the mental list in the forefront of my mind is enough to fill up my tank for a few days. Long enough to zip me past any obstacles that jump out in front.
But eventually reality must sink in and I hit that unseen patch which sends my spiritual walk skidding into a guard rail and leaves me wondering what went wrong.
While I don’t fall into this pit nearly as often as I used to, it still happens. I repeat the words of my grandfather as I remind myself that “it might not look slick” but I must be alert. I must pick up that full armor of God to melt the ice. To extinguish those arrows…
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:11-17, NLT)
I’m joining the following writers for these link-ups today:
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory
Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart
Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday
Stopping over from Tell His Story. I enjoy your writing and reflections Jennifer.:)
Thank you, Katie, I truly appreciate those words!
Jennifer- This is packed with such wisdom. Thanks for the beautifully-written reminder of something ugly: we have an enemy and he is looking for an opportunity to make us crash and burn. We must tread carefully and remember that we are completely dependent on God’s protection. Loved this~
Thanks Karen! As always – you’re wonderful encouragement. 🙂
I love this post… I love that your grandpa gave you such great wisdom, earthly wisdom AND spiritual wisdom. I too had a grandpa like that <3 Thanks for reminding me to be watchful… I think I really needed this today!
Thank you so much, Rachel. So glad you enjoyed the post!
I was just thinking about these verses and how we are to be active but not fearful. God confirmed some things in my heart with your reflections. I love how God does that, even when we least expect it. 🙂 Thanks for linking up for #ThreeWordWednesday.
And thank you for hosting, Kristin!
Visiting from Kristin’s. Love the analogy and it is so perfect today as we woke up to icy roads and black ice!
Thank you for visiting!
“He knew that my sensitivities needed to be heightened to something I couldn’t see.”
Ooh, yes, Jennifer. The things we can’t see are sometimes more important than what we can see. Thanks for increasing my alertness today. I do want to stay wide awake to what God is doing in the now, in this moment.
It’s amazing how God takes little drops of wisdom and transforms them into huge life lessons … and then brings them to mind at the precise moment we need them. Your grandpa’s words, a scripture we read, or nowadays, even a FB post or tweet. I was blessed by your lesson here, Jennifer – watch out for those icy patches, beware of complacency – barren busyness really. So wise and insightful – thank you for sharing. Stopping by from #tellhisstory. 🙂
Thank you so much, Tiffany – so glad you could join me here and I do appreciate the encouragement. 🙂
That Is so cool when words from our elders come back to us the rest of our lives. Your grandfather was very wise 🙂
It makes me wonder what our kids and grandkids will remember that we said!
I could only think, after I wrote this post, what other fond phrases I could recall from those who are no longer in my life. I sit here now and can think of many little bits of advice that they gave me. How I miss them!
Hi, Jennifer. I came here from Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart. I really appreciate what you have shared here. I especially like: “I must pick up that full armor of God to melt the ice. To extinguish those arrows…” Be alert! Yes! Thank God for Holy Spirit who comes along side to help us and guide us. 🙂
God continue to bless you richly!
Thank you so much for that encouragement, Cindy. Your words were a gift!
Very well put! Enjoyed the perspective & “warning”.
Ah yes… the slippery slope of getting too comfortable and relaxing our watch! Love you, my friend!